September 2016 e-Newsletter

September e-News

In this issue:

All-Ireland Summer School 26-28 August
Summer School Talks – Report
First Sunday Meeting 4 September Oaths and AffirmationsSpeaker: Justin McKenna
Launch of Irish Freethinker on 28 August and Humanist Times on 14 September
Repeal the 8th – March with the HAI on 24 September
Report of First Sunday Meeting 7 August – Forum on Education Campaign
Meeting of Family Support Group 21 August
Local Humanist Groups
Newsbytes
Save the Date: Annual General meeting – 6 November
HAI Management Committee Meeting 4 September
Meeting of Media and Publicity Group
HAI stand at GPO
Award for Educate Together
Back issues
Contributions from members
Living wills and planning ahead
 

 

 

All-Ireland Summer School 26-28 August

The Summer School – Humanism and the Climate Crisis – was truly our most successful and important joint collaboration to date.  The speakers were varied and gave a rich and nuanced perspective on the huge topic of Climate Change.

There were close to 100 participants over both days from our joint memberships and visitors, and the organisers were very happy with the event and look forward to developing and improving the format for next year’s Summer School.   Áine Crawley, Bob Rees, Brian McClinton, Fachtna Roe, Joan Hulme, Mairéad Doyle and Terry Moseley are currently seeking volunteers for Summer School 2017!

  • Very special thanks must be given to Peter Deeney who prepared the Summer School Report – no small ask with such a short turnaround.  Peter Deeney and Alan Tuffery have been truly unsung heroes over the years in the production of the Summer School reports.
  • Fachtna Roe and Pat Browne have been beavering away getting jpegs and video transferred – all will be uploaded to our website as soon as possible.

The Social Evening at the Carlingford Sailing Club overlooking Cooley Peninsula
Brian Whiteside presided over dinner on Saturday night with his inimitable flair and we were treated to a specially composed comedy from Secular Stand Up Comedian Eve Darcy.  There was much talent on show during the evening from both HAI and Humani – with special thanks to Lorraine Cooke, Suzie Kennedy, Pat Duncan and Eoin O’Brien.  To everyone who participated  – too many to list completely here – you made it a night to remember.

– Mairéad Doyle


. .

Clockwise- left to right: Roger Kelly, Chair of Humani, Alan Tuffery, Eamon McCann, Kate Ruddock, Duncan Stewart, Brian McClinton, Mairéad Doyle and Fachtna Roe. second: Kate Ruddock, Friends of the Earth, third – the audience; and fourth, Duncan Stewart entertaining the party on his clarinet.

Summer School Talks – Report

Eamonn McCann, MLA, was our orator in the oratory. He illustrated concern for the environment with examples from local campaigns including Prehen Wood, an illegal dump near the river Faughan and gold mining in the Gortin Glen. His main point was that economics tended to trump all other considerations, including the law and the environment. He pointed out that the schools and sports groups in the Gortin area refused to take the bribes offered by the mining company, preferring to stand together with their community in defence of the beauty around them. Free-market capitalism has been stopped before. During World War II, the US government took direct control of the steel and car industries. In the face of an existential threat necessity forces action.Kate Ruddock of Friends of the Earth focused on climate change and the fact that while the more prosperous people in the world have caused it, the less prosperous are facing the most serious effects. In Ireland we produce a great deal of our greenhouse gasses from agriculture, and it’s not that we are feeding the hungry. We are providing burgers and milkshakes to people who can afford them. Ireland is not blameless, we produce more CO2 than the average for the EU. Globally we need to leave about 2/3 of the known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. These assets are stranded and cannot be used. Some solutions in an Irish context can be seen in http://dconnolly.net/greenplanireland/Catriona Ruane, MLA placed the context of climate change within the political and educational processes. In line with all our speakers she underlined the point that convincing people to take action is our most difficult task. She supported the idea that this was best done within political parties as it is they who form governments which can make changes. She pointed out the unfortunate fact that on the doorsteps during elections there is little popular concern for climate change.Kevin Kerr of South West College explained that renewable energy was a viable option for individual homes. He encouraged us to insulate first to reduce energy consumption and to use the free energy which is available. The technology for solar, wind, heat pumps and heat transferred ventilation is all tested and working now.

Duncan Stewart, Architect and TV producer,  passionately explained the size of the problem facing us. This is as big a threat as a World War and requires a similar-sized response. The mean global temperature during the last ice age was 4 degrees centigrade below the mean global temperature before the industrial revolution. We are heading towards a 4 degree increase by the end of this century. The changes will be immense, and it is we who are relatively wealthy who are causing the problem. We have to insulate homes to passive house standards, use pumped storage to allow renewables to operate properly and use the existing proven solutions.

John Barry of Queen’s University Belfast placed the problem of climate change within the consumer culture of constant carbon based consumption. He explained some of the difficulties experienced in the political arena when bringing green issues forward. There are two undeniable ways to convince people: first there is no peer reviewed scientific study denying climate change, second the insurance companies who are capitalists par excellence, are taking climate change into their calculations. He also said that Ireland is in an excellent position to take advantage of renewable energy. We have both the wind and the engineering expertise to lead the world in turbine design, we have tidal energy which hasn’t even been measured and we have even got enough sunshine.

A common theme of the summer school was that there was no doubt whatsoever that climate change is happening and that we are the cause. It is the absence of political will that prevents solutions being implemented: all the science and technology is tried and tested. The development of the political will is therefore the major task. We can change society by acting together in our own best interests and not in the best interests of existing power structures and businesses. In addition, addressing climate change will lead to many opportunities and will bring many useful by-products. It will increase manufacturing opportunities and reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels. It will defuse tension when resources like water become more stressed and will reduce the power and money being sent to troubled parts of the world such as the Middle East.

Report by Peter Deeney

First Sunday Meeting 4 September Oaths and Affirmations

Speaker: Justin McKenna

As secularists, humanists are uncomfortable with making religious oaths. Indeed, the idea of oaths at all gives pause to many as they are a superstitious relic, and rely on the threat of religious sanction for their supposed effectiveness.

Justin McKenna will describe the legal requirements for religious oaths and affirmations. He will take a historical perspective, and also ask how they work  in a modern society with increasing diversity of religious and secular views.

Justin McKenna is a practising solicitor and a notary public, responsible for administering oaths and other declarations.  He was President of the Dublin Solicitors’ Bar Association, and currently serves on the Governing Council of the Faculty of Notaries Public in Ireland.

Launch of Irish Freethinker on 28 August and Humanist Times on 14 September


During the Summer School, Roger Kelly, Chair of Humani, officially launched the new magazine Irish Freethinker. Humanism Ireland magazine is now being replaced by two new Irish Humanist magazines to give our Humanist Community the best selection of writing and topical news. Irish Freethinker is supported by the Humanist Association of Northern Ireland and will be published six times a year.It will not be sent to HAI members, but orders can be placed with Bob Rees email: bigbobrees@gmail.com or Mairéad Doyle maireaddoyle.humanist@gmail.com During the Summer School, Roger Kelly, Chair of Humani, officially launched the new magazine Irish Freethinker, which provides a voice for those who form their own opinions about important subjects such as philosophy and politics.After the All Ireland Summer School, Roger Kelly also called for a special segment in all future editions of the magazine to feature and educate on Climate Change.  That proposal and the launch of the magazine were heartily welcomed by all.Willie Collins, Chair of HAI, welcomed the publication of Irish Freethinker and reflected on the huge advantage in having two different styles of magazine published for our Humanist Community.Humanist Times  is the new voice of the HAI, and will be launched on 14 September.  It will be posted out to all HAI members.

This new magazine, edited by HAI Director Arthur Deeny, will reflect the values and ethos of the Humanist community. It is directed at the existing membership of the HAI,  but, very importantly, it is aimed at potential Humanists of every age and background.  Print is a very important important medium in reaching out to new members
Humanist Times welcomes information, articles, questions and suggestions of all kinds to humanisttimes@gmail.com  The official launch of Humanist Times will take place on Wednesday, 14th September at 6.30pm in the Third Space, Smithfield (50m from the Smithfield Luas stop) Convenient car parking available beside the Luas.  All members are welcome.  The editor and team will be there and available for debate and discussion from 4pm.

Repeal the 8th – March with the HAI on 24 September

This year, for the first time, the HAI will be supporting the Coalition to Repeal the 8th and will be marching under the HAI banner on 24th September.  We hope that lots of HAI members and supporters will join us at the March for Choice on Saturday 24th September 2016. For details of meeting on the day, please contact Shona at humanistofireland@gmail.com If you wish to personally support the Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment you can find details here https://www.facebook.com/repeal8/Shona Weymes

Report of First Sunday Meeting 7 August – Forum on Education Campaign

Education is a core concept of Humanism and the abolition of religious discrimination in the Irish School system is a key campaign in association with Education Equality, Educate Together and EquateFachtna Roe, Director of Membership and Community, chaired the meeting of about 40 members and guests, including some very welcome members of the mid-Western Humanist Group.Paddy Monahan articulated the core principle that children should be able to attend their local school without religious discrimination.  96% of national schools under religious patronage are permitted under the Equal Status Act to discriminate against children on religious grounds. Even when admitted, children from non-religious families will usually be left to sit at the back of a class during religious instruction (RI, ‘faith formation’). The relevant section of the Equal Status Act must be repealed and RI moved to the end of the school day. Constitutional objections to change are ill-founded and the Education Act 1998 requires amendment to grant religious freedom, an idea which is currently being perverted to maintain the status quo.John Suttle, of the Irish National Schools Trust, summarised the origins of the National System and showed how its founding ethos of religious toleration had been subverted by the churches. National schools are funded by the state and most of the lands were leased to the schools. The founding documents guaranteed both the separation of secular education and religious instruction, and  religious freedom for Catholics and Protestants. Secularists were not specifically considered. Cases brought under the Equal Status Act via the Equality Tribunal will not be costly and are likely to succeed.

Paul Rowe, of Educate Together, emphasised that the issue is about children’s rights.Children do not choose the religion of their families, their ethnicity, or genetic make-up, and equality of access and esteem are fundamental. Many practical objections are placed in the way of those who wish to withdraw their children from Religious Instruction and they usually give up. The Integrated Curriculum tries to place religion in every aspect of the curriculum, along the lines of the infamous and recently repealed Rule 68. Educate Together shows a valid and practical model of how all children can be respected in a curriculum which includes moral and spiritual values and education about religions. HAI has assisted the development of lesson plans for Educate Together schools. Educate Together’s aim is to provide an ET school within 30 minutes’ drive of every pupil’s home. The programme has received virtually no support from successive governments. It currently costs ET about €100,000 to open one secondary school.

Discussion. Teachers are still expected to give religious instructions in schools, in accordance with their contracts, an infringement of their human rights. (The Employment Equality Act 1998 permits schools to discriminate in employment on the grounds of religion.) The unions have shown no interest in this issue. All RI should be outside school hours, allowing respect for all views. Ireland appears to be unique in Western Europe in its religious ‘patronage’ of schools. Most have not more than 15% of ‘faith schools’ and human rights are protected. The present minister’s plan emphasises ‘choice’, rather than equality, which, in effect, would result in the religious segregation of children. Hardly a system to foster inclusion and tolerance in the 21st century.

For the future, it is important to keep the campaigns together, individuals should badger their representatives and an important focus must be on individual cases — an approach which was very successful in the Yes Equality campaign. The ‘soft power’ of the churches must also be challenged. Reform must be seen not as removing rights or property but as conferring rights and respect.

Rule 68 http://thinkforyourself.ie/2012/04/14/rules-for-national-schools/

– Alan Tuffery

Meeting of Family Support Group 21 August 

On Sunday, 21 August, sixteen adults and sixteen children met in the cafe at IMMA. Some had travelled quite a distance from Meath, Louth and Kildare. They all grabbed a coffee and a quick bite to eat and instantly hit it off. People found it very liberating to be able to talk about raising their kids without religion and about the disappointment in the Irish school system which is putting such pressure on people to baptise their children. The kids played together and it felt like all had found their tribe. As Emma Sides’ daughter loudly said to her “are you making friends mummy?!”. Luckily it was a warm day so after 2 hours of chatting  all went to the beautiful walled gardens and stood around the fountain as the children played and chatted for a further 2.5 hours! Everyone had a great time and all are very enthusiastic to meet up again every month. So, we have already created another playdate next month in St Stephen’s Green. Here’s to many more to come!”
If you would like to get in touch with us, please contact Joe and Lucy Rigby at riggleberry@gmail.com
You can also join our group on Facebook here.
 

Local Humanist Groups

Cork Humanists meet on the First Tuesday of the month in the Bar BOQ, Bridge Street, Cork at 7.30 pm.  Details are also on http://corkhumanists.weebly.com/ or you can contact Geraldine O’Neill on 086 812 8892.Humanists West serve Galway and surrounding areas, and meet in Galway City on the last Sunday of each month. Please note the change of venue: we are now meeting in the Anno Santo Hotel, Threadneedle Road, Salthill, Galway. The meetings start at 12 noon. For more information contact Garry O’Lochlainn on garryol@hotmail.com or 087 2222726.Kilkenny plus members from Laois, Offaly, Carlow, and Kildare meet on the second Friday of the month at 8.00 p.m. in The Bróg Maker, Castlecomer Road, Kilkenny.    Contact Fachtna Roe on fachtna@fachtnaroe.ie for further details.  Please note change of location!Mid-West Humanists includes people from Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary who meet on the third Wednesday of each month at 20:00 in Limerick – the Absolute Hotel, Sir Harry’s Mall, Limerick. Meeting notice at www.midwesthumanists.com. For more information contact Peter O’Hara on 086 8155102 or email info@midwesthumanists.com.

North Coast Humanists meet every second Tuesday of the month at 6. 30 pm in the foyer of Lodge Hotel, Coleraine. New faces are welcome. For more information, contact: jennifer.sturgeon@btinternet.com  or 07818036404.
North Dublin Humanist Community:
The next meeting of the North Dublin Humanist Community will be on Monday 26th September in The Brian Boru (Hedigan’s Pub) in Phibsborough at 8pm. We don’t have a room (at the moment) but are most likely to be found downstairs to the left of the main bar!
One of our members, Andi, is going to give us a short 10 min talk on the following excellent TED talk by Brené Brown who studies human connection – our ability to empathise, love and belong. It’s called The Power of Vulnerability. https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en
The rest of us are going to watch it also and then we’ll all have a chat about that as well as whatever else we get round to. Please email emmasides@gmail.com to confirm attendance. We look forward to seeing you.
North-West Humanists have changed their meeting place to Café Paradiso @Carrick Cineplex (behind Supermac’s), Sligo Road,Carrick on Shannon,Co. Roscommon.  The meeting time has been slightly extended, now 2.30pm to 5pm, still on the third Sunday of every month. The new venue is comfortable and quiet, with quality tea, coffee, snacks (including popcorn!) and a selection of wines. It is closer to the train station than the town-centre. For more information, directions and enquiries, please e-mail isoldecarmody@gmail.com, text or phone 086 8820445.
South Dublin Humanist Community will be meeting next on Monday, 12th September at 8.00 pm in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dún Laoghaire.  The speaker is Justin McKenna who will discuss religious oaths. Further details from Brian Whiteside at  humanistbrian@gmail.com or phone 086-384 8940.

Waterford Humanists meet on the third Wednesday of every month in the Reference Room, Waterford City Library, Lady lane at 6.00 p.m.  Contact Teresa Graham on grahamt22@gmail.com for further details.

West Cork Humanists
Returning after our summer break, West Cork Humanists, as part of the West Cork Food Festival, are taking the ‘Pirates of Baltimore’ tour in Dun Na Sead Castle Baltimore on Friday 16th September  at 2.30. If interested please contact westcorkhumanists@gmail.com  or Joe Fahy  on 0872328266

Westport Humanists meet in the Park Terrace Wine Bar of the Wyatt Hotel at the Octagon in Westport at 12 o’clock on the second Sunday of every month.  The group has a facebook page. Contact Séamus O’Connell on 087 245 35 36 or email shayoc37@gmail.com for further details.

 

Newsbytes

How Lucy died – 3.2 million years agoSabina Higgins backs philosophy teaching in schoolsIHEU says: This is not our secularismIHEU President asks: Where does humanism stand at a time of crisis?

More couples choosing humanist weddings in Scotland

How Irish bishops reacted to being asked to hand over their schools

More than 180 same-sex weddings in first three months of 2016

Save the Date: Annual General meeting – 6 November

A date for your diary: the Annual General Meeting will take place in the Ashling Hotel on 6 November.   AGM papers will be sent out in early October.

HAI Management Committee Meeting 4 September

The second meeting of the Management Committee will take place on 4 September.  This group is made up of representatives from the various working groups, such as campaigns, media and local/regional groups.
Meeting of Media and Publicity Group
Next meeting of the Media and Publicity group is Sunday, 18th of September at 10:30. Anyone interested in joining this very engaging and convivial group, please email the Chairperson, amandawhai@gmail.com
HAI stand at GPO
The next outing of the HAI stand at the GPO will take place on Saturday, 17 September from 12 pm to 2 pm. All members who would like to lend their support would be most welcome!

Award for Educate Together

http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2016/03/educate-together-awarded-secularist-of-the-year-prize

Back issues

Back issues from January 2014 can be found on the website here here, but do not include Board reports or other material specific to members.  If you want a members’ back issue, please contact the administrator on admin@humanism.ie

Contributions from members

If you have constructive comments or feedback on this e-Newsletter, Board meetings, the organisation in general, and/or are able to contribute to the goals of the HAI in any way, please let us know.And if you have news items or links you would like to share with other HAI members, please send them for possible inclusion in the e-Newsletter by the 27th of the month.We would very much welcome your contributions!The email address is admin@humanism.ie

Living wills and planning ahead

Planning AheadThe Irish Hospice Foundation has a comprehensive website http://www.thinkahead.ie/ which guides members of the public in discussing and recording their preferences in the event of emergency, serious illness and death.Advanced Healthcare Directive Advance directives are written legal documents by which patients express their wishes about the kind of health care they want to receive in the event they become unable to make their own treatment decisions. This usually means if he or she is physically or mentally incapacitated or otherwise unable to makes these desires known. They are designed to allow competent patients the opportunity to guide future health care decisions.

Advance directives include living wills and medical powers of attorney, sometimes called durable powers of attorney. It takes the decision away from family members, thus reducing their stress at a vulnerable time.More information is available from http://www.worldrtd.net/organization/living-wills-trust-lwt or contact Daphne Wynne, 01 2802879, for further information.